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Is Breaking Up 4 Years After D-Day ‘Overreacting’?

leave a cheaterDear Chump Lady,

I recently discovered your book and am about half way through it…

D-Day was 4 years ago and I went through everything you mentioned a chump would do. Therapy with the FW, being understanding for the role I played in the infidelity, and even uprooted myself back to his hometown so he could be back closer to his family and friends, to help with his depression.

We have since stayed together, got engaged, and went through a couple of smaller micro affairs where he messaged women behind my back while I was on business trips. Last month, we were out for his birthday at a bar. In front of family and friends, a women who was his client was openly flirting with him the whole night which made it massively awkward and disrespectful. He did not take any active action to remove her or us from the situation and that was the last straw. I ended things and he is in the process of moving out.

The irony of the situation is that his family believes he had done nothing wrong as she was ‘just a drunken nuisance’ while I saw it completely differently. He did nothing to protect our relationship that night knowing the history we had and even questioned why I ‘didn’t step in and say something’. Missing the complete point.

I feel as though all those useful tips and advice from your book would have been helpful one month after D Day, not four years after as it almost feels as though the statute of limitations have expired. I know it makes no logical sense but that’s what’s on my mind. One month out, and I miss him terribly. I saw him briefly a few days ago to sort out bills and just broke down. He was also upset and even teared up as he feels like the rug got pulled from underneath him and he had done nothing wrong on his birthday. He also feels I have just dragged him along these past four years. I brought up the messaging women points and he said ‘I didn’t actually meet up with them!’ Which again showed me how far apart our standards and boundaries are in protecting a relationship we have with a life partner.

Am I overreacting and just need to get over the trauma? How do I keep moving on the right path and not feel sucked in? I’m scared to be alone and find there is no point to life at times (not suicidal but there is a grey cast over everything). I’m in my late 30s and this is now my third failed long term relationship. I am so confused and overwhelmed with sadness and fear.

Regards,

Turmoil

Dear Turmoil,

You’re not overreacting (and you will get over the trauma; it’s finite). You just need a massive infusion of Trust That He Sucks.

Of course he doesn’t think he sucks. In therapy, he was quite happy to pin the blame on you. You “played a role.” (I would like to bitch slap that therapist. How exactly do you drive someone to do something you don’t even know about? If you have superpowers they should be better directed.)

And, of course, his parents don’t think he sucks. They created this entitled monster. Also, you don’t know what stories he’s telling them.

Turmoil, you need a wider perspective. Here we are — CN — to tell you — this guy SUCKS.

He cheated on you, and then he kept cheating on you. “Smaller micro affairs”? Why are you minimizing this? You gave him the (undeserved) gift of reconciliation and he continued to be a shady, abusive jerk. Messaging women when you were out of town? To do what? Tell them about Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? The Macy’s Day sale?

No, he was trying to hook up. And then he’s okay flirting with another woman in front of your face! Bold power move — in front of his friends and family. (Also, forgive my skepticism, but I suspect he’s probably got an affair going with the client for her to feel that uninhibited in her affections. Ask a few thousands chumps who’ve sat on that awkward bar stool how we know…) He was enjoying the pick-me dance.

He did nothing to protect our relationship that night knowing the history we had and even questioned why I ‘didn’t step in and say something’.

Yeah, he’s real disappointed you didn’t join the pick-me dance. How great that would be — two women fighting over the awesomeness of him.

Also, you notice a pattern here? How you’re responsible for him? For his “depression,” for his happiness, for his boundaries?

It’s not your job to adult for him.

it almost feels as though the statute of limitations have expired.

There is no statute of limitations on what is acceptable to you.

One month out, and I miss him terribly. I saw him briefly a few days ago to sort out bills and just broke down.

It’s normal to miss the lie — of who you thought he was and the future you thought you were going to have. Don’t confuse that grief with the actual HIM. (A guy who cheats and mindfucks.) But you absolutely need to go NO CONTACT. There is no earthly reason why you need to see him in person to sort out bills. He can Venmo you. That’s you getting a toke on the hopium pipe, and him trying to see if his mindfuckery still works. NO CONTACT.

He was also upset and even teared up as he feels like the rug got pulled from underneath him and he had done nothing wrong on his birthday.

Poor boo. Manipulation channel set at self-pity. He’s DARVOing you.

YOU had the rug pulled out from your life. (He cheated and kept cheating.) YOU did nothing wrong at his birthday. (You sat there confused and humiliated. But did not pick-me dance.)

He also feels I have just dragged him along these past four years.

Oh, really? I thought you moved to his home town.

I brought up the messaging women points and he said ‘I didn’t actually meet up with them!’ Which again showed me how far apart our standards and boundaries are in protecting a relationship we have with a life partner.

Right. You don’t share values or standards. It’s not going to work. And there is NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU for having values and standards. Like the bare minimum of “I won’t tolerate abuse.” Cheating is abuse. Mindfuckery — gaslighting, minimizing, blameshifting — is abuse. He is abusive. Damn straight you don’t share that. He wants a chump. You want a partner with integrity.

I’m scared to be alone and find there is no point to life at times.

We’ve all been there. You’re more alone with this guy than you are solo. Breaking free is the first step toward getting the kind of life you want. Staying with this creep isn’t going to improve your future. I know it feels overwhelming, but stay no contact and move ahead. Also talk to your doctor about depression — and get STD testing too.

I’m in my late 30s and this is now my third failed long-term relationship.

You didn’t fail. HE failed. I wish you didn’t have four years of sunk costs with a loser, but there are a lot of messages out there telling people to patch it up with cheaters. Don’t look at relationships as a head count — look at them as experiences you learn from. It takes GUTS to stand up and demand better. It takes resilience to live your values and not tolerate abuse.

Take some time to work on yourself — not because this is your fault. But because you own things that aren’t yours to own. (His failure, his boundaries, his happiness.) Chumpdom is a curable condition. You’re young. There’s a big world out there full of people worth knowing. You just have to develop better boundaries.

Resist the creeping panic of He’s The Last Fuckwit Who Will Ever Love Me.

Bullshit. Fuckwits don’t love.

Hold out for love, Turmoil. Big ((hugs)).

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Chump lady is right. You did the right thing getting out. Who else stayed 4 years and put in massive sunk costs ( puts hand up), but in the end you have to choose YOU not a fuckwit. No contact is the way to heal. Keep moving forward, it will get better I promise you that.

    • *Raises both hands*
      I stayed 14 years with my cheater after D-Day #1 and had another kid with her. All the while, she was exhibiting what I call “affair lite” behavior like having intense friendships with people she was attracted to. I just didn’t realize the extent of her devaluation of me until D-Day #2, 14 years later.

      Chump Lady is right. I could have asserted any of this as a dealbreaker at any point during those 14 years. Although it pains chumps to hear it, anyone has the right to end any relationship at any time, for any reason – though of course there might be negative consequences if someone bails on marriages and kids. I wish my STBX had bailed, instead of abusing me and weaponizing my integrity against me. But I was of use to her, so she had no reason to leave.

      Your ex still has use for you, Turmoil, so he’s trying to Hoover you. Don’t let him. You can’t control other people; it doesn’t matter what his family thinks. You know the truth, and you know in your gut that you will never receive the respect you deserve from him. So respect yourself and go No Contact with him and his family!

      All best to you. This part sucks, but as CL says, it’s finite.

      • “I wish my STBX had bailed, instead of abusing me and weaponizing my integrity against me. But I was of use to her, so she had no reason to leave.”

        Yes, this.

        OR I wish that I had left.

        In my fantasies, I would have waited until after OWs wedding (to the fiancé she cheated on when she fucked my dead husband…she wore a $39,000 diamond since her fiancé was a high end jeweler) and after she got pregnant and then told FW that I was done. He would have deserved every twinge of pain and misery.

        So to Turmoil, I agree with CL 100%…you get to decide if this relationship is unacceptable and it sounds like he clearly sucks. If you are single, if you meet someone wonderful, you can enter a relationship with integrity. If you stay with a FW, your are trapped in a foggy world of shit sandwiches.

    • I’d like to know the name of the book you’re reading. I’ve been married for 22 years and have three kids with my husband. I am going through the exact same thing.

    • *Raising hand*

      6 years for me and many d-days of heart-wrenching pain in-between. I finally filed for divorce this month after 17 years of marriage.

      Don’t feel guilty. Get out now before you waste more time waiting to see if he’s really changed. Be thankful you don’t have children (you don’t appear to) and make a clean, no-contact break.

  • Do this experiment. Ask a group of people you are with, coworkers, friends, if they have ever been so insulted or so hurt that they have never forgotten it. Everyone of them will say yes and they will remember it like it just happened even if it was 10 or 20 or 30 years ago.
    I consider cheating just below murder, kidnapping, rape, arson. It’s that insulting it’s that life altering.
    Of course you still remember this and are still in agony over it.

    • Agree!!!! Maybe even equal mainly because it’s widely not considered that harmful-so we aren’t recognized as abused and traumatized. Imagine telling someone who was raped get over it, or asking them what their part was in it, or expecting the victim to sit next to the perpetrator at an event “for the kids”.

  • My FW flirted openly in front of me. It seemed harmless at the time because he was charming with everyone. Nope. Nope. Nopity nope. It’s a boundaries issue. You deserve better.

    • mightykj, i experienced the same thing. he was charming and talkative and outgoing with everybody, not just females. but there was always that extra little ‘something’ in his friendliness with females, he gave off a vibe, he would flirt in front of me and when i look back on it i’m disgusted with him and frustrated with myself for not saying anything and just trying to ignore it. i feel much differently now, and i’m working on boundaries and not accepting unacceptable behavior. i still feel bad/guilty/uncomfortable when i enforce a boundary. i need more practice at it.

      • Mine openly flirted with a sales girl ringing up the clothes we were buying him for our honeymoon! I knew it was wrong and unacceptable. Yet ultimately I accepted it. And married him, and taught him what I would accept.

        I have boundaries now. Boundaries are AWESOME!

        I enforce my values and standards now. I’m alone, and deeply happy.

        • HappyN- I have a question for CN, but not sure how to post a comment to the general population so i am going to try here. It seems many Fw flirted in front of chumps. Both the FW and the other party participate in the disrespect. What suggestions does CN have to tastefully deal with that abuse while its happening? It’s not just the FW getting kibbles by hurting others.

          • Why do you have to be tasteful and not just be direct ? Get up and leave when respect and love isn’t being served.

            • Well it could be at a school function, dinner with friends, graduation ceremony. Walking away gets the point across to the FW, but the other person gets kibbles. Guess i am wondering what was a way to show all parties ( including innocent bystanders) the inappropriateness of the “flirters” actions, without coming across as a paranoid shrew.

              • “Boy talk about disrespectful low lives! And oh, please do not confuse my disgust with jealousy” Then walk away.

                Of course walking away is the best route to take and keep walking to a divorce attorney.

              • Chumpalongtime,

                Anybody with emotional intelligence and even a degree of empathy will notice the inappropriateness of the person/people flirting. Unfortunately, the peanut gallery will likely be a mix of people, faithful and unfaithful, very astute and not so much. It would be impossible to gracefully cover all the bases. Just focus on what would make you proud of yourself.

                Any partner worth having would discourage the flirting, and notice the discomfort caused by the low rent flirter in front of them. Ideally they should be the one to steer the flirter AWAY.

                But how about a haughty, audible sigh that wordlessly communicates “for fuck’s sakes”

                People who flirt intensely are already beneath you, so you almost don’t even need to say or do anything.

                A word of caution though, not all flirty people are pscyhologically stable, so safety would be the primary consideration of whether any response is even worth it.

              • Maybe smiling and laughing it off and saying something like, “somebody needs attention tonight” or maybe just pretending you are too bored playing on your phone when you are really looking for divorce attorneys.

                It is a tough situation. Walking away or even acknowledging the situation gives kibbles to both of them and makes you look unhinged.

              • Ok. Thought about it more. What if you come closer to him and make some fake gesture like putting your hand on his back and laughingly say, “Do you guys need a room, it’s getting pretty uncomfortable in here and people are starting to talk?” or “Y’all are getting pretty close, should I be worried?” Just laugh the whole time and be funny though like you are joking but she will know you are on to her.

              • Walking away is protecting yourself and standing up for yourself.

                We don’t have power to control how someone feels about our actions.

          • Honestly? If I could go back I’d just say to both of them “I hope you two are very happy together” and then walk the fuck away and call a lawyer.

            They could all scream to my lawyer about how it was just friendly flirting that meant nothing. I would continue filing.

            But I know now that my ex was fucking most of the women he harmlessly flirted with and if he wasn’t fucking them it was only because they turned him down. I no longer tolerate flirty people. I don’t find it charming or cute. And I’ve noticed some of them get really upset if you don’t engage in it with them. At this point in my life I think almost all “flirty people” are just cheaters advertising for new holes. Ever person I’ve thought just had a flirty personality has turned out to be an unethical whore. So that’s my old, bitter lady take on it.

            • I love all your posts Katie, you definitely take no prisoners!! You are a great antidote to wishy-washy self doubt. Thanks!

              • Thank you! I really appreciate that and I’m glad when I can help. I have to admit though, I went through a lot of wishy washy years of self doubt to get here. LOL

            • I remember being introduced to the skank by my ex and they flirted in front of me. I knew something was off. She said, “I’m just a touchy feely kind of person!” Whenever I said anything about the fuckwit’s flirting in front of me (over 30 years with a myriad of women), he would make me doubt myself over and over again by saying, “I wasn’t flirting, I was just being nice”, or “You’re imagining things”, or he’d roll his eyes like he was putting up with me just being imbecilic again. If I was as knowledgeable then as I am now, I might have said, “You both need to go have your conversation elsewhere where I don’t have to see your stupidity.” And if I knew then what I know now, I’d go the other direction and straight to a lawyer. Alas. Wisdom only comes with age… and sometimes only with experience.

              • Amazon Chump my experience exactly! Ex FW openly flirted with OW in front of me, after introducing me to her. I felt uncomfortable the whole night and when we got home I said to him she was flirty, and they he went off at me saying “there you are again being paranoid. You are always so damn paranoid!”
                Now I know better and will not tolerate such bullshit. They are low lives and they deserve each other.

              • I like this and Lisa’s suggestion. I had experienced Ex Fw flirting with other women- off and on. Knew it was wrong, but didn’t know how to address both parties since they were both just as culpable. The Ex would even circle back to the same place just to see if he could make a more longstanding connection. Not calling both assholes out at the time is something i wish i had did differently.

            • Amen sister. Looking back on cheating dead husband…I put up with way too much flirty behavior and smiled/held my tongue. No more. Never again.

          • Move yourself to stand between the two of them, face your FW and firmly state “I think it’s time to go.” Then grab FW by the hand and leave the flirtee bewildered, in the dust. Hopefully there are others who observe this to add to their humiliation. The one your FW is flirting should share the blame. If your FW is going to act like a toddler in a candy store wanting it all, then treat them like one.

            • I really disagree with this suggestion. I don’t want to be married to a toddler. I don’t see how your scenario makes anything better, and if the FW is violent, this suggestion could end very badly.

              • Had I done that, I would have been the one humiliated further. My self esteem at that time was completely demolished. And he would have made me pay for my ‘outrageous behavior’ once we were out of eyesight of others. I lived in fear of his disappointment in me.

            • That is a classic example of the pick me dance. Turmoil and his flying monkey family would have loved it.

              Turmoil’s idea of leaving his cheating ass is a much more effective message to send.

        • That’s extra shitty because the sales girl’s literal job is to be nice to customers. She doesn’t have the ability to roll her eyes and walk away from the creep. I suspect that was one of the reasons he did it.

          • I wish I had known so many things at age 24 that I now know at age 55! Back then, I did get visibly upset, pouted, and then accepted his lame apology and ultimately let it go because the wedding was in 2 weeks.

            Now I would say 6 simple words: I am not okay with this. Whether that is followed by awkward silence that doesn’t bother me at all, or by me walking away, might depend on the situation. But I have come to love and value the pure power of speaking my truth clearly. No drama. No manipulations. No tiptoeing around.

            I am not okay with this.

            If this ever happens to me again, in some future relationship, I would certainly walk away. And this time I would not come back!

            • Yes, Happy Now. This. I so very much wish I had the strength in my 20s that I do now at 51. Reading CN, I have various memories that pop up from early on and throughout my relationship with my EX that just mortify me. He would flirt with my girlfriends while I was in the other room. 2 of them told me about it—and I spackled and ignored it and played it off. Such an idiot! It’s hard to look back at those times in my life and not be filled with self-loathing. When that happens, I will repeat what you say here “I have come to love and value the pure power of speaking my truth clearly. No drama. No manipulations. No tiptoeing around.” Thank you for that.

      • Maybe you need more practice to feel comfortable, but the bottom line is that Cheaters do not think that boundaries apply to them.

  • Relationships don’t always fail. They just end because they’ve run their course.

    Or because one partner blows it to pieces. And it only takes one.

    And that is not the partner you want.

    (In reality, all romantic relationships end – either in marriage, or outside of it.)

    You’ve been mindfucked, and I am so sorry that happened to you. You didn’t deserve it.

    No Contact is the shortest path to the truth and the light.

  • I’m 39 and have had 6 abusive relationships with the latest one ending in March (similar re situations to the letter writer here). It’s hard to think at our age that there really are better men out there, especially when, like the letter writer, you end up abused, abandoned and treated like shit the more loving and loyal you are. Good men who actually value great women and want to be actual partners are where exactly? Thank you for listening.

    • Here on this blog. Everywhere. It’s a matter of serendipity, bravery (putting yourself out there), and fixing your picker (have boundaries and the courage to Next someone at the sign of red flags).

      Cheating isn’t a gender problem, it’s a character problem.

    • 39yo chump guy here who values integrity and loyalty. CL is right, we’re all on the same ship just different decks. We just have to find and be able to recognize each other.

      P.S. I’m not trying to use this as some dating site. Just trying to make the point that there are probably more great, single people around you than you realize.

      • My youngest son is 31, and he tells me he has the same problem finding a woman with good character and values. He is not seeking a mythical vestal virgin, but he wants to find a wife who doesn’t sell pictures of herself to men on “Friends Only” websites. He wants a wife who expects to work and contribute to the family income, who has common dreams and goals. He would really like to have children. These do not seem to be impossible dreams to me. He is educated, started working part time in his teens, worked throughout college, graduated with good grades, and now is working an average of 6 days/nights a week as a realtor. He is funny, and has good manners. I think he is handsome, but other people who are not his mother seem to agree. He thinks online dating is like dancing through a field of land mines. It is not about age or gender folks! It is about character!!!!!

        • Hey, another 39 year old here. Went no contact just when the pandemic started and haven’t been finding my luck ever since. Sure there are good people out there, but not so many, and dating apps stimulate superficial, sparkly behavior.

          I’m trying to learn and heal and I don’t believe I could still be attracted by the men I’ve been falling for before. Still, I tend to think more and more often that the era is not with us. I cannot even count the number of dates I’ve had with entitled asses that see you as an asset. I’m just less and less letting my happiness depend on it, which is making me semi cynical.

          • I do think it’s harder the older you are (54 here). There just aren’t as many ‘organic’ options for meeting people (like a friends party vs a dating app), and what I see and hear over and over again is men dating up to 20 years down, and dating apps make that so incredibly easy. (Ex has had 4 known romantic partners who have accepted his BS for some period of time since the moment he left.) Covid hasn’t helped with circulating in the real world. Looking forward to being able to get out again just to be in a human mix. I really would love what I now refer to as a “nice boyfriend,” but the process of getting there feels like swallowing razor blades. Friend in common saw the ex not long ago at a community function – at 8 pm she said he was extremely drunk, so much so that she just walked away from him. Grateful not to have that in my life at least, but bear in mind he’s one of the “single” ones.

    • Good, kind men are out there. I married one at age 40. While I didn’t cause the abuse I experienced before, and it wasn’t my fault, I do take responsibility for my lack of boundaries and how my childhood conditioning feeds into that. I fixed my picker (got into therapy and I decided what is and is and is not acceptable in relationships and acted accordingly). You can do that too. You are not doomed to be forever alone or in a shit relationship.

      • I agree. I found a great guy at age 60. And as you say, I didn’t cause the abuse and most of my conditioning abuse was from my childhood years. I had an abusive father. We all lived in fear of him. He nearly killed my mother (after 25 years of marriage) before the older kids force-ably removed her from the house and marriage. I met my ex-fuckwit when I was 22 and married him when I was 24. There were red flags all over, but not only didn’t I recognize them as red flags, he never hit me. It’s what you’re used to, and I was used to physical abuse. I never equated cheating with abuse. But after I had enough of the fuckwit (after 30 years of marriage), I decided I’d rather be alone the rest of my life than to have another fuckwit in it. All the shit that I had put up with, I was no longer putting up with. Even ‘friends’. I was done with them. I saw a ‘friend’ have her cell phone on her and reply immediately to every text that came in, but when I’d send her a text, it could take as much as the next day before she replied. I called her out on it. “You know, I can’t help but notice that you have your cell phone with you all of the time and immediately answer every text you receive when I’m with you, but you take hours to respond to me. I can’t help but assume that I’m not that important to you.” She tried to tap dance and explain that that just wasn’t true. But I was done. When I got rid of the fuckwit and decided to put myself first, I unknowingly started erecting boundaries with everyone. I was 55 years old and my sons were grown and gone. Maybe that’s why it was easier for me to erect boundaries. I was already old and already had my children. I wasn’t in my late 30s with the child-bearing clock ticking away.

        • Amazon Chump, bravo. I am similar. Just ended a 20 year friendship. Told a well meaning but needy and importunate bloke I wasn’t interested in dating. Telling my impertinent neighbour very nicely where to get off. The malice and long memory of some siblings now looks sad and stunted and has no power to hurt. I see where it comes from, our FOO, but we are not kids anymore and its our adult job to recognise and move beyond that.

          I too have my lovely kids and am definitely at peace with being one and done in the husband stakes. Definitely not shopping. A narcissistic abusive closeted gay with mummy issues is a lot to get over. Fool me once…

          I’m ceding the weight of other peoples worlds that I’ve been carrying my whole life and it feels strange, sometimes frightening, but mainly … really good.

    • I am terrible with boundaries but I think it comes down to whether you want to feel rejected after you’ve been exploited and used up by someone who totally overwhelmed your limited boundaries and then moved on because you’re no longer of use or you’ve been forced to escape because of abuse or you want to feel rejected because you set a boundary which you held when someone who sought to violate it and so they moved on because they realised you’re not open to being exploited. To someone like me it feels equally painful to my self esteem but the former is so much more personally dustructive.

      • Some of us chimps need to realise that if we’re striking out with potential partners it’s not a reflection of our worth as a person or that we’ve done something wrong that’s put that person off, it’s that we’ve done something right and sent the message perhaps without realising it that we are not open to the brand of exploration a predator is after. You have a policy of not lending money but don’t connect it to a friend or new person in your life becoming busy or distant? You wouldn’t automatically pick up the ball and start helping them with their children or domestic duties because you have your own responsibilities and they’re not as friendly. You can tell a lot about someone’s internal motivations from their reactions when you don’t autimatically leap in to ‘do for’ when they’ve appeared helpless or asked a favour. I’m not saying don’t lend a hand or go about resting people for the sake of it by saying no to everything but a lot of chumps get derailed from their own priorities by others agendas that aren’t necessarily in our own interests. So next time someone gets a bit weird in you or ghosts you, ask yourself was it because I did something wrong or because I actually did something right?

        • Stig, this is such a good point. Thank you. My therapist reminded me that the ex’s expression of repulsion when he looked at me during the discard may have arisen from his repulsion at my goodness in the areas where he is weak. My loyalty, my honesty, my openness. She explained that repulsion and hatred can be triggered by seeing what we lack in others. The shame of the realisation of who they are in that moment flashes across the face. The person they hate is themselves in that second. Not us.

    • Im sorry about your bad run of abusers. There may be something wrong with your picker. For me, I was attracted to the brooding bad-boy…know what that got me? A husband who was a brooding bad-boy.

      When I was 50, I married for the second time to Colonel Great Guy who is silly and he clips his bone to his belt. He also watches terrible movies and has no sense of direction. He is also trustworthy and decent. When I ask him to try to not do something that hurts me, he ACTUALLY works at not doing that hurtful thing.

      There are some great guys here…hearing their sincerity will help your faith in humanity. Beware, however of men who hear a chump story and tell you they were clumped too. Many of them are lying.

      I argue that most divorced men will tell you it was not their fault (pardon my skepticism but) I think most of them are lying. Figuring out which are telling the truth and which are lying is one of life’s greatest challenges.

      • Yes agree. My fw definitely had a polished narrative. It was his ex that left him for another., plus he had the custody over his 2 kids, which I considered a good sign. Now I know she probably just ran away from the fw to a safe place (but still I think it’s stupid she left for only another person, not to be out herself).

        Anyway, there are no shortcuts. Only time can tell how sincere they are. Trust the energy you feel between you and the person. Don’t stand in a desperate place, the guys you are dating should be happy to have YOU (without becoming proud or arrogant or anything, of course). These are messages I’m telling myself all the time…

  • “I went through everything you mentioned a chump would do. Therapy with the FW, being understanding for the role I played in the infidelity, and even uprooted myself back to his hometown so he could be back closer to his family and friends, to help with his depression”

    Dang, that all sounds so familiar. I, too, took my FW to therapy with me, admitted to “my role” in his affairs (Me: This is all my fault for taking you for granted. Him: Yes, you’re right.), organized my life around him and his friends, and, during our reconciliation, did everything I could to research more about his “depression,” encouraged him to join social groups (like drama clubs) that would cheer him up, and basically lifted him up and celebrated him at every turn so he’d know how much I loved him.

    What a waste of years, I think looking back.

    As CL says, I was also on that barstool sitting awkwardly while my husband and the woman who would later be revealed as GF#3/Wifetress flirted openly in front of me. If I ventured to question the appropriateness of what I thought I was seeing FW would quickly and angrily say things like “You’re paranoid; she’s just a friend” or “What, I can’t have friends unless YOU approve of them?” or “You see, I can’t even make friends because you’re hung up on the past!!” and other variations on that theme. I sensed the woman he was openly taking an interest in *right in front of me* was not “just a friend” but I spent many awkward social events around her and them, wanting to be present as his wife. She even came to our young child’s birthday party. Very awkward. And I knew if I said anything he’d be angry with me and use it as an opportunity to point out all the ways I was oppressive. So I ate that shit sandwich.

    GF#3/Wifetress was a different kind of affair for him. With the others he snuck around; with this one it was blatant, in my face, and he was always in contact with her and God help me if I told him how much I didn’t like that.

    I’ve been on that barstool. CL is right. It’s a heck of a power play on his part. “Look at how I can develop this new relationship right in front of you and if you try anything, I’ll be only to happy to let you know that you’re an untrusting harpy and it’s because you don’t trust me that our relationship might not work out.”

    Turmoil, I’m so glad you didn’t marry that man, have kids, and build a life with him. I’m so glad that you walked away. You are so mighty. I really admire that backbone of yours.

    • I did the same. Called him out on flirting with his coworker. “She’s just a friend. I can’t have FRIENDS? You are crazy/paranoid/reading too much into things/insecure/blah blah blah.” He was fucking her the whole time. I had her over to dinner at my house. Our kids played together. I invited her for Christmas dinner because I felt sorry for her (she’d left her husband – for mine, though I didn’t know that at the time – and it was her first Christmas without her kids). I made her dinner on her birthday. And she was carrying on an affair with my husband behind my back. All our “friends” knew. No one said anything to me. Talk about awkward social situations. Looking back, it was so obvious what was going on. But I didn’t want to believe it, so I made excuses for his behavior. I finally couldn’t deny it anymore. But he didn’t admit to it until almost four years after it started. And even then he lied about how long it had been going on. I found plenty of evidence to show that it began exactly when I suspected it did.

      • Yep, this was me. I’m a crazy, jealous, insecure woman who didn’t want him to have friends.

        I spent holidays with his affair partners. They were women he grew up with and like family. I developed bonds with their children, I thought they did with mine, I considered them family over 20 fucking years.

        They were screwing him and rubbing it in my face at holidays and vacations spent together. I guess they were thankful for my stupidity at Thanksgiving.

        But even now that I know this, they STILL tell people I’m crazy and insecure and jealous for not being cool with what was happening so of course he had to cheat on me repeatedly because I was so crazy. It’s maddening if I think about it so most of the time I just don’t.

      • It is despicable and unforgiveable that your “friends” all knew and nobody spoke up. These are the kind of folks who would film a rape in progress on the subway instead of tackling the rapist.

      • Cheaters are scumbags for sure but for your cheater and his AP to carry on and then have the AP socialize with you and have you entertain her in your home is really depraved. They deserve one another.

    • I too was on that barstool! I like that expression! I remember we were getting together with Dr. FW’s family to watch his nephew play in a big college hops game at a venue 2 hours from home. I coordinated multiple cars to the venue (blended family, 6 driving kids between us), my kids and I showed up together only to find an attractive drug rep sitting in our section that he’d “forgotten” to tell me he’d invited! Talk about humiliating. “We’re just friends” etc etc. This is before D-Day. Talk about humiliating.

      • FourLeaf, Isawthelight and Wooshy…
        Youve just described my life. Wow.
        I literally WAS on that barstool. Soon to be x, is a musician, and I got a front row seat many evenings to his “friendliness.” I too made excuses. “You can’t tell me who to be friends with” was his rallying cry for years. I really did think there was something wrong with me for feeling so insecure. Weirdly (I guess) I’m still convinced his overtures to his many “fans” was for emotional validation, and not hook ups. He was never that sexual and frankly kind of dull in the sack… BUT he could not resist the flirting and having women swoon.
        The first round of his many emotional affairs were long distance – safe, right?
        The one who caught him and won the “prize” was a co worker. And when I was still on FB I actually saw a video of him one night, that a friend posted, of him playing in a bar… and his girlfriend was sitting on the SAME barstool that I always sat at. That was a defining moment.
        My input Turmoil, yes, it hurts, but trust these wise people here – these types NEVER change. You’ve saved yourself from a lifetime of heartache. They need to flirt, and have “friends” like a starving man can not resist a smorgasbord.

        • TmT, well lucky her, she just won the Barstool! What a prize! Guaranteed humiliation, abandonment, abuse! Agree with you, not sure if my X-Dr FW actually hooked up with the drug rep but he sure did enjoy many “friendships” with women – the funny thing is that he was rarely getting texts, phone calls from GUY “friends.” All about the kibbles for this narc, especially enjoyed the power dynamic being a doc and having something they want. I later found out that at the time of that public humiliation (one of many), he was well into a 7 year affair with a nurse 20 years younger than him. Toxic power dynamic much?

          • I was in the holiday cottage at the ex MIL’s 80th birthday watching the FW flirt shamelessly with his 20 something niece, his brother’s youngest daughter. It had happened before, a couple of years previously, when she and the in laws were staying with us. He came to bed at about 3am having been ‘talking’ to her alone over several bottles of red wine. She was a ‘very interesting person’. In fact she is as narcissistic as him, the female version. On this last occasion it was the start of the discard. My father was in hospital (he died 2 weeks later). I walked into the party after talking to my sister on the phone about our Dad. FW was sitting on the sofa. The niece was sitting at his feet, head resting on his leg. I’m not kidding when I say that her father, stepmother, sister, grandparents and the aunts and uncles were all in the room and saw what was going on. No one said a word. I was shocked and surprised. When I had an opportunity I told him that he needed to be very careful about his boundaries. He shrugged. This was the last straw in a nightmarish weekend where I felt abused on all sides and had no idea what was going on. He was up alone with her, drinking wine every night of the three nights we were there until the small hours. Then he’d come to bed drunk, and pick a fight, usually about money when I was accused of not contributing. Which was ironic. All sorts of whispering and disappearing from the room was going on throughout the weekend. I got myself together to leave at one point, while he was out running with the niece. Instead of taking our car (because I knew he’d be angry) I wandered around in the pouring rain looking for a cab, unsuccessfully. That was prompted by finding his wedding ring lying on a shelf in the room. Later he claimed that he always took it off when he was running (another lie).

            He left me 2 months later, allegedly for his ex girlfriend from school who by this time lived in Canada. I only know that because I found the emails. The niece lives in Germany and is bipolar. We were together 26 years, no kids, and I was 59 at the time. Now 2 years out I can see how unhealthy he and his dysfunctional family really are. Hard though it has all been, humiliated though I have felt, I had a lucky escape. He was only going to get stranger and stranger as he got older. There was something of a very dark night about him, once the blinkers were off.

            • Wow! With his own niece and her father, stepmother, sister and grandparents all there watching. Yep, that’s certainly creepy. I’m glad you got out. And I hope you’re loving life!

              • Thank you AC. I’m glad that I got out too! The exgfOW can deal with the madness now. My life is much, much better. Just me and the puppy in the house I bought him out of. #nodrama.

    • “What, I can’t have friends unless YOU approve of them?”

      The answer to that is; “That’s correct. If the friendship makes me uncomfortable, a loving husband would not put that friendship before me. If you aren’t prepared to put me first, there’s the door and here’s your hat.”

      Thankfully, we know that now.

      The nerve of these people really peeves me. If you get married or otherwise are committed, you have to prioritize the relationship above friendships, hobbies and even work, to a reasonable degree. If they can’t accept that they shouldn’t couple up. They expect to reap the benefits of having a partner without making any of the sacrifices.

      The ones who shove it in front of your face, forcing you to deal with the AP directly, are super disordered, power hungry freaks. Bringing her to your child’s birthday is downright evil.

      • My ex-fuckwit brought his skank into the house when ‘she was looking for a house to buy for her and Fred’ when Fred was still in Afghanistan. I naively agreed. He was fucking her in my own house with my teenage sons in the very next room. Yes. Both of them are super disordered, power-hungry freaks. And now they’re married to each other. I can’t imagine the dynamics of that relationship.

        • Yuck! I am sorry he did that. Only the sickest of freaks involve their kids in their filth. OW in my case was one of those- she brought her kids around fuckwit, wanted him to introduce me to her, for our kids to meet, all that. My fuckwit didn’t want to bring her around me or the kids, knowing as he did that I’d spot what was going on. But he was such a slave to her that at her insistence, he did try several times. I just wasn’t interested in socializing with “a friend from work.” I’d heard about the people he worked with and most of them seemed to be substance abusers or assholes of some sort. As a consolation to OW, he agreed to show her ugly ass off in places where my friends and some members of my family hung out and in front of a member of his own family. That behavior is what finally got him caught so I’m glad he was so controlled by the ho. But oh, *I* was the controlling one. Cheater delusion is so gross.

          The good news is your fw and his ho now have to cheat on each other to get their freaky kicks. OW will find out what it’s like to be his hypotenuse and to be devalued.

      • “What, I can’t have friends unless YOU approve of them?”

        The answer to that is; “That’s correct. If the friendship makes me uncomfortable, a loving husband would not put that friendship before me. If you aren’t prepared to put me first, there’s the door and here’s your hat.”

        OFFS, Absolutely brilliant!

    • Oh, I’ve been on that barstool, and at that restaurant table, multiple times. One time my FW even invited his AP to our anniversary dinner! That was more than 1 year before my “D-day”… and I didn’t say anything because they were “work friends”!! And we had 2 little kids so it couldn’t be anything serious, right? I was such a chump, but they also were shameless. Correction: are, still are shameless.

    • Furleaf,

      Oh my goodness. I relate to all the stuff you did to ‘manage his life’.

      I was pretty good at staying out of parts of it due to Al-Anon but when dday came all my black belt Al-Anon training went out the window and was replaced with RIC propaganda. Fit like a glove and, for me at that time, the end justified the means.

      I became lazar focused on HIM. From red carpet treatment to redecorating. I had quite the flair for it. The flies in the ointment were my damn Al-Anon friends who wouldn’t stop badgering me with their unending face-slap orders to protect myself financially and get away from him ASAP. One even told me to stop buying him things. Well, how dare she. Obviously she had no idea how special he was and how wonderful our life would be once ‘he saw the light’.

      Snark. Can’t help myself.

      Its tiring to do all of that stuff.

      I had to stop and question if, at my age – mid 60’s- I really wanted to go on tour with RIC conferences around the world expressing the gratitude I felt as a result of having ‘hanging in and winning the Grand Prize.

      House decorating I could handle. Traveling was the deal breaker.

      After two exhausting and crazy making years I found LACGAL and CL/CN.

      The rest is history.

      My Al-Anon friends triumphed and I began my new fw free life.

      To the original poster:

      As they say, “RUN like your hair is on fire, sweetie. He isn’t worth it and you are not responsible for his mental health nor do you have to stay because of his mental health. YOURS IS more important.

      • Sorry FOURLEAF – typo = FURLEAF…..Didn’t catch it until too late…Too caught up in MY reply to catch my error….seems to be an old pattern resurfacing 🙂

        • No worries on the name. I quite like Furleaf, actually. 😀

          The more I read about all our collective times “on the barstool” the less and less I miss sitting on it. So uncomfortable, sad, and lonely on that stool. Trying to be a good and present wife while FW flirts, in front of us, with his AP.

          I don’t miss that barstool. It was awful. She can definitely have it; it’s no throne.

  • Turmoil,
    I feel a lot of this doubt that you are allowing to creep in is because it’s your third failed long term relationship and you’re in your late 30’s. Sister, I promise you from someone who has a similar story (3 failed long term relationships…all with cheaters, one that almost cost me my life…by the time I was 39) it’s much better to get out of this failed relationship NOW…. RUN!!! GO NO CONTACT!!!! SET MAJOR BOUNDARIES!!!! He is toxic and it only gets WORSE the older the get and the more you get sucked back in. And, God forbid if you had a child with him….that situation is a horrible shit show for all parties involved, especially the children. Take some time for you and heal. May I suggest finding a therapist just for you to help you heal, deal with the trauma and do the hard work to figure out why you keep getting into failed relationships (my guess is, it’s probably with cheaters). I also suggest that during this time you educate yourself on red flags, how to set boundaries (Read the book “Boundaries” by Henry Cloud), remove all toxic people from your life and surround yourself with people who genuinely care about you, and do stuff that YOU love. You moved for him, you went to therapy for him, you did all this crap for him – it’s time for you to do it for YOU! After you work on you, heal, learn what healthy boundaries are and what healthy relationships look like that is what you strive for and I promise that is what you will get because you won’t settle for less.

    I know because I did a very extreme version of what I described (I literally cut toxic person out of my life including quitting my job without a backup) and today my life is completely different than what it was. My life is finally HEALTHY and I am surrounded by HEALTHY people (including my fiancé who is a fellow chump). You’ve got this!❤️

  • We put so much pressure on ourselves when we count # of relationships or our age. I’m in my late 60’s, and I wonder what my life would have been like if I could possibly have known what I know now when I was in my late 30’s. However, I realize it is pointless to speculate — you are where you are, you know what you know when you know it, and you have to adapt to life and survive, or you die. Also, moving to a new location does not solve issues you have, or change other people. You are the only one who can fix your picker. Other people can help, by being supportive, or suggesting things that worked for them, but the hard work of learning to trust your instincts, educating yourself, and actually allowing yourself the time to heal is up to you.

    I worked in higher education for years. Traditional wisdom says you need to start college at 18, after you graduate from high school. In many ways, you have a lot of support to help you succeed if you follow this path, but it is not the only path. When I taught, I actually enjoyed adult students because they came to class, prepared, and they did not waste time. They had purpose. They had a goal. They knew why they were there.

    When we waste our time trying to “change” another person, hoping they will “become” the person they pretended to be, or we need for them to be, it is futile. This truth should be taught to young people while they are growing up, instead of the “Someday my prince/princess will appear and we will live happily ever after” BS we learn in fairy tales.

    Turmoil, you are understandably disappointed, but the guy you thought was a prince was a toad. A toad who sucks. Jump out of that toxic pond and get as far away from him as possible. You are not responsible for his bad choices, and should not blame yourself for his failure to act like the prince he pretended to be. You have plenty of time to gain the life you want to live. Ask Chump Nation how we know!

    • “Other people can help, by being supportive, or suggesting things that worked for them, but the hard work of learning to trust your instincts, educating yourself, and actually allowing yourself the time to heal is up to you.”
      I feel like you were hollering my name here. I keep turning to other people for help and comfort but, ultimately, I am the one who needs to keep growing amd healing. No one else can do that for me.

  • Do not go back to this man or feel even one ounce of guilt for walking away from him!!!!

    1. He led YOU on for 4 years, not the other way around.

    2. After he cheated, he faced no consequences; in fact, he was rewarded by you upending your life so he could be nearer to his support system while isolating you further.

    3. There were more than just mini affairs… for every cockroach you see, there are 1000 you don’t.

    4. His family sucks, just like he sucks. These are not people that you want as in-laws or grandparents to your kids.

    5. If you give him another chance, you will one day hate yourself for it.

  • It seems like a common theme to all these questions is ultimately you’re really just asking “this happened , are my feelings valid”?

    YES! Your feelings are ALWAYS valid!!!!

  • Perhaps consider moving to a location that is better for YOU!
    If there is a place where you too could be surrounded by supportive friends, family or even more chances for a social network, it will be worth the effort in the long run.

    I just made my 20th move – it’s hard, exhausting and often expensive. But somehow when I put up the things I love on the walls and unpack the things that make me smile, I feel happy in my own space. It’s a great time to change a color scheme and explore a new city (walking is fantastic for depression and your health). If you can find a job somewhere else, cut those ties and run towards your new life. I believe it is risky to stay put and near the gaslighting, lying manipulator.
    Good luck!

  • Of course he feels like the rug was pulled our from under him. That’s because you accepted his bullshit so he became accustomed to being able to behave this way with no consequences.

    My ex would tell you the same thing because he was accustomed to the dynamic where he behaved poorly, played dumb, and then I didn’t bring it up again. Once that stopped he was shocked.

    Are you really so terrified of being alone that you’ll settle for this? Cut him off…no contact. With time it will pass.

    This guy has made clear who he is….please believe him.

    • yep, that cycle I went through for so long… ugh. The playing dumb was just part of a vast network of lying to cover up the things I didn’t know yet and to keep me off balance and confused and afraid so that I would just give up trying to understand and get back to the work of raising a young daughter and being on the tenure track… twice. The freedom now to not be at the mercy of that cyclic dynamic… I”m only 10 months out and the sweet freedom is immeasurable.

  • We tend to worry about age (especially women) far too much. You’re only in your late 30’s, please do not let that factor into any relationship decision making. Give yourself some time to reflect and know what you want and don’t want…do not settle. Have high standards (high standards, not a chip on your shoulder or anger) and that will act as a natural repellent for FW’s and will attract decent, like minded people. Also, you may go through some self doubt about dumping the cheating asswipe. You did the right thing, he’s a weak loser and I can guarantee you he will not change.

  • Turmoil:

    CL is spot-on. My thoughts are to tackle your fear of being alone first and foremost. That’s what’s driving your need to be “in relationship” regardless of it being the right fit for you. It’s as though you choose anyone just to be with someone. Since the pattern has repeated for you, the depression and feeling low are natural after so much disappointment. You need a partner; not a project. No one should go into relationship with another to Build-a-Man. That’s old cliche’ from hearing, “she’s my better half”, and “without her I wouldn’t be half the man I am today”, etc. Sure, we should complement and bring out the best in one another, but one partner should not always be the growth catalyst for another’s progress. Now that you’re experiencing doing all the heavy lifting while policing this man’s immaturity for years, you’re feeling the burden and the weight of personal responsibility to be imbalanced.

    Spend some worthy time forward getting to the bottom of fear of aloneness. Dig deep to find the source of feeling low, depressed and dark about life. Seek help from your choice of therapy, support groups, spiritual mentors, trusted friends and lots of self discovery apart from being attached. In time, as you heal from fears that debilitate you and lead you into bad relationships, you’ll emerge with a new perspective and perceptions about yourself that guard your mind and heart toward healthy relationships.

    It’s not the end; it’s the beginning of a new and better life! Wishing you all the best.

  • Turmoil, as a therapist friend of my says, believe the actions, not the words and how you feel. His actions show that he has no intention of being the partner you deserve. Sure he likes you and can say things that pull on the heartstrings, but he’s showing that he doesn’t follow through long-term.

    We all go through that. Mine was a long-term marriage, and he definitely could get my emotions through all of cycles of break-up and reconcilation. Divorce was on the table for fifteen years before he finally kicked off because I was not willing to accept his version of reconcilation. I still had some feelings at the beginning, but by the end, no. We took out everything requiring ongoing contact because I couldn’t stand the thought of dealing with him at all. Thankfully the financial hit I took for that was short-term.

    You may want to invest in some therapy to work out your relationship goals before you start dating again. A therapist in my area does a six-session group for that sort of thing. Just a thought.

  • You are not quitting; rather, you gave this guy the gift of four years of reconciliation. If anything, you were unreasonably generous with your vulnerability. You don’t owe him more just because you already gave him so much.

    In the end, it didn’t work. As CL said, you will be less lonely without him, and giving yourself the gift of other, better opportunities.

  • Isolating you from your friends and family, by moving to a different state, for example, is a classic abuser tactic. I am so glad you escaped. In some ways wish I had never moved to another state with my abuser. Now I am connected to him forever through our child. If your ex is so inconsiderate of your feeling that he allows a woman to openly flirt with him in front of your face (and with the full approval and support of his flying monkey family) try to imagine how he’d treat you while you are at home with a newborn or were otherwise not at full capacity. Do you think he’d be supportive and helpful and caring? Or would he be off with his family or his friends or his “client”?

    • Yes, my ex proposed relocating as “the answer.” We separated, and he chose to take off many states away which made supposedly trying to save the marriage very unlikely.

      Then he pushed hard for me to come there and even said we could live anywhere I wanted and get our dream house. His family was saying that if we “just started over,” all would be well. Except that the foundations of the marriage were shattered from my standpoint and going back into something that was destroying me was just plain foolish. Being alone with him in a new place wouldn’t fix anything at all. His family also didn’t grasp how the marriage had already fallen apart over and over, so I had no reason not to expect more of the same. Every professional and wise individual that I discussed this with said — NO – DANGER – NO.

      I took scads of hopium during my marriage and separation, so it was a big boundary for me to refuse reconciliation on his terms. He also had been threatening divorce for over a decade and said he’d make me homeless at times. Well, he didn’t make me homeless. I actually got a good settlement.

    • My XW nuked my marriage just a couple of months after the kids and I arrived in GA. Going through that with literally zero in-person support was hellish. (By mean literally literally – I did not know a single person within 500 miles of my new home).

      I remember once seeing a list of stressful life events that put you at risk of depression: divorce, moving, new job, illness and death in the family. I got 3 out of 5 of these within a two month period – deliberately inflicted, because XW had been having an affair for at least a year and this was all pre-planned. It was tough.

      • Yes, I cannot imagine. That was one of my fears — all that work for something that was hanging on a thread. Then I’d have NO ONE. Our kids were in college, but I pictured myself sneaking out with just the clothes on my back to drive back here where friends would help and then still going through a horrible divorce.

        So I chose the horrible divorce. No fun, but at least there was an end to it.

  • OMG yes! You are absolutely justified to drop kick that piece of human garbage and his enabling family after 4 years. If you are not married, you dodged a major bullet. Go NO CONTACT! Don’t give him any chance to suck you back in. You gave him all the chances he did not deserve to show he wanted to be a better human being. Instead he upped the mind fuckery. And you guys were not even married so I can’t even imagine what it would be otherwise (wait , I can, never mind).

    You’re only in your 30s, it will be ok. It’s ok to be alone. Trust me, it’s a million times better than being stuck with the wrong person who is continuously lying to you and blaming everything on you. Focus on living yourself for a bit, enjoy a Fuckwit free life and things will start look better. Now is the time remember what makes you you, get therapy, fix your picker.

    You’ll be OK ((hugs)).

  • Turmoil, you have a four years of post D-day investment in this person. Don’t make it decades of post D-day investment like so many chumps did. He can whine all he likes, because you are going NC, right? I agree with CL, that client has to be either a current/former AP or somebody he has been grooming to be an AP. Random drunken women with no reason to think your husband would be receptive don’t crash his birthday party to flirt with him. Like what is he, a movie star? He’s so handsome and charming that women make fools of themselves in public over him? That’s what you’re supposed to believe? The whiny, blame-shifting, gaslighting jerk you have described sounds like he has all the charm of an unwashed gym sock, so no. You being publically humiliated because Gym Sock’s dick has wanderlust is his fault. I also agree with CL that he was trying to hook up with those women while you were away. He may have succeeded. He’s certainly not going to admit it but he does admits he considers it okay to troll the waters for APs. That was your cue to run.

    Yes, you will miss that lie. Yes, being alone sucks. Late thirties? You’re a teenager by veteran chump standards. You have plenty of time to fix your picker and find somebody who isn’t a creep. You didn’t fail, you got duped.

    Read the archives. There’s tons of advice on fixing your picker so you can minimize the chances of being duped again. Chumps have gone on to have great relationships, CL included. The way to get there is painful, but if you tough it out, it will be worth it. Even if all the other men on earth went up in a cloud if smoke and he was the only option besides being alone forever, alone would be better than living with constant fear and distrust and the unending sadness of knowing your partner does not care if he hurts you. Living like that can ruin your mental and physical health.

  • I sat on that same awkward bar stool. I was 6 months pregnant and the unit was giving the fuckwit a going-away party before we left for Japan. One of the floozies in the unit came up to him and said, “Captain, I’ve always wanted to kiss you.” And so he kissed her, tongues and all, in front of me and everybody. And everybody immediately looked over at me. I was ashamed and turned myself away from everyone. I felt ugly, fat, and ashamed. Later he professed that he was drunk. What a mess I was. I stayed married to that fucker for 30 years being lied to, gaslighted, and being made to feel ‘not enough’. Believe us when we say, he will not change and this is finite. And as CL says, work on yourself and your boundaries. It’s much better to live alone the rest of your life than to live and pander to a fuckwit!

    • I am so sorry that this happened. It’s horrifying, in part because everyone looked at you, the victim. Absolutely not right, not fair.

      But you got out and I appreciate you!

  • WHAT STARTS OUT SHITTY DOES NOT GET BETTER.

    Repeat until it sinks in..

    You need a massive infusion of NO CONTACT and Chump Lady, the Narcan for the hopium you’ve been smoking.

    You can’t see the writing on the wall when your nose is up against it. You need to stand WAY back from this guy, for a long time, hopefully with a great therapist and trusted family and trusted friends, to even begin to see clearly.

    Neither this person or his family is on your side. You are in a lion’s den of people who don’t care about you.
    I think a lion’s den would be an improvement because lions don’t
    mindfuck you about the danger you are in when in their midst.

    Look at what your body is telling you. Your hands bought a copy of Chump Lady’s book. Your eyes read it. Then your hands wrote Chump Lady an SOS letter. If you were in a healthy relationship you would not be doing those things. Your feet walked away from him. Your mind is yelling that your house is on fire.

    Therapy….for YOU. Third time is not the charm. It’s the ALARM and it sounds like there are some patterns you need help uncovering. Like the rest of humanity.

    Women Who Love Too Much, written in the mid 80’s, is another great book. I am back in it retracing my steps to see what I can learn from the relationship in which I spend half my life (27 years at DDay OCT 2017). There were big red STOP signs I blew past. I was 27 years old and smoked hopium and partnered with an expert liar, cheater, thief, WHO WEN T TO THERAPY WITH ME THE ENTIRE 27 YEARS WE WERE TOGETHER. How did that turn out? At 54, with a therapist in the room the ENTIRE 27 years, he a a bonded me and the innocent precious child we had.

    Yes, you read that right. THERAPY THE ENTIRE TIME.

    When we met, we were both in recovery. We both came from seriously fucked up families. Therapy was at my request, so we could learn to AVOID what we grew up with. (Pro tip: we repeat what we grew up with without serious intervention, as marriage partners and as parents….).

    What I found out in OCT 2017 is that
    only one of us was participating in earnest. Guess who? While I was showing up he was lying, hiding money from me from the business we started together, conducting a secret sexual double life, and talking about MY issues. Blaming.

    We are now thankfully, but tragically and sadly divorced. I wanted what I THOUGHT I had, what I HOPED for, WHO I thought he was. He WAS NONE OF WHAT I THOUGHT. Only being away from him has brought
    that home. I thank God today that his totally fake attempt to reconcile only lasted two months (he needed to get through the holidays so he would not look like the massive jerk he actually is). And to be honest, if I had not discovered his sexual double life I would have clung to that marriage. Now I see that WITHOUT the affairs, my instincts to leave were dead on.

    Speaking of lions, animals HONE their instincts. Humans are the only species that ARGUE with them AND DENY them. I no longer believe our capacity to reason makes us the superior species.

    Your Mystery Date is not the Prom
    King. He is the Dud, no doubt with a very charming side that only serves to obfuscate how fucked up and hazardous to your health he is.

    OJ Simpson was very charming too.
    So was Chris Watts. And Brian Laundrie.

    And…and…. and….and….and….and…

    This man keeps hurting you, and his family has joined in.

    Please leave and get help, for YOU.
    Listen to your instincts and stand up for you.

    That’s the only thing that will bring the sun back into your world.

    • TYPO….

      “How did that turn out? At 54, with a therapist in the room the ENTIRE 27 years, he a a bonded me and the innocent precious child we had.”

      He ABANDONED ME

    • In a way I’m thankful for my ex’s whore ex gf. I left him after finding out she’d been around our entire relationship and he lied, gaslighted, stonewalled, and bullied to get me to rugsweep.

      But the truth was that I hadn’t been happy with him in a long time because of the general way he treated me, which I’m not sure had anything to do with the ex. He was just a nasty prick that was jealous that I’m a lot younger, am in great shape, and make more money. His immaturity and insecurity are what causes him to sniff out younger women but he’s also very jealous of their youth so he treats you like shit to keep you in your place, then paint a phony smile on his face and plays dumb. That’s his MO.

      But I was willing to put up with a lot for someone I thought was loyal and trustworthy.

      One of my gf’s told me “don’t divorce him because of his ex gf. Divorce him because he treats you like shit”. In my case she was absolutely right.

    • “ Look at what your body is telling you. Your hands bought a copy of Chump Lady’s book. Your eyes read it. Then your hands wrote Chump Lady an SOS letter. If you were in a healthy relationship you would not be doing those things. Your feet walked away from him. Your mind is yelling that your house is on fire.”
      Love this description!

  • What did I do before I met you, Chump Lady and Chump Nation? I reckon the answer is: Stay stuck in the abuse cycle with a cheater. This post is exactly on time for me. I gave the returning claimed-born-again-changed-life-XFW the final “Goodbye, I can’t do this,” 5 days ago and I am on the verge of crumbling and breaking the no contact already. And we’ve been divorced for 4 months! Why do we chumps have to be reminded of these simple truths of who our ex’s really are nearly EVERY DAY? Because we are just plain ole life-time abused chumps? It was 20 years for me and I just turned 40, so yeah, life time. I do trust that he sucks, I know I just miss the lie, I know it was Hoovering and Love Bombing. But *knowing* that doesn’t stop the tears in my eyes and the lump in my throat. Keep up the encouragement to us newbies to stay the course, CN. Some of us need it more than others.

    • It’s still very, very raw for you. Have faith that we know what we’re talking about. Remain No Contact and also get yourself involved in life, with friends, with hiking groups, with traveling… whatever. The longer you stay no contact, and the more you’re involved with life, the quicker you get through this and reach Meh. We promise!

      • Ditto what Amazon Chump says. No Contact makes room for healing. In time your heart will catch up with your head. It’s one thing to trust that they suck on an intellectual level, but it’s another thing entirely to believe it in your heart and your gut and your soul. But it does happen in time.

        I remember a dark moment when I was where you are now. I KNEW he sucked but my decades-long love for him, attachment to him, was as strong as ever. In that moment I just started repeating, like a mantra, “please let me stop loving him, please let me stop loving him, please let me stop loving him.” Just the realization that the pain would ease when I stopped loving him seemed to crack open a door and let a bit of light into that darkness.

        I did stop loving him — it took a while for that to happen, and then it took even longer for me to let go of my tendency to have fond memories that would trigger sadness. It’s now been years since I felt any of that. I promise it gets better.

        • “I remember a dark moment when I was where you are now. I KNEW he sucked but my decades-long love for him, attachment to him, was as strong as ever. In that moment I just started repeating, like a mantra, “please let me stop loving him, please let me stop loving him, please let me stop loving him.” Just the realization that the pain would ease when I stopped loving him seemed to crack open a door and let a bit of light into that darkness.”

          Well said. We’ve all been there. What I did was anytime I felt myself faltering, I looked over the mountain of evidence I had accumulated on him and the list I had made of the things he had done that were completely unforgivable. That list was 150 items long, and I didn’t even know all of the things he had done.

          ImmaChump, it will pass. Keep the faith and stay NC. Keeping up contact is like keeping drugs around when you’re trying to get clean.

          • Whenever I start to miss “the lie,” I just remind myself of how horrible it was to have the sti treated multiple times.

    • “”” I just miss the lie, I know it was Hoovering and Love Bombing.”””

      My god…to be forty again.
      Your life is ahead of you. Get rid of bad relationships. No Contact works.
      Then get into you.

      omg how and why I put up with so far less than what I needed or wanted. not necessary. Get into a 12 step group or therapy and stick with it.
      {{{hugs}}} they SUCK.

    • Hang in there – stay strong and don’t give into your sadness and loneliness!

      I believe that anger serves a useful purpose. Use it to fuel your strength.

      I’ve read that depression is anger turned inward. Don’t let that happen! Turn that anger outward, where it belongs.

    • I’ll clarify that we have a very active 13yo son together, so it’s not a true no contact. But I get tempted to contact beyond grey rock to vent my anger and try to squeeze some more remorse out of him.

      • Imma, he has no remorse – except that he got caught and you imposed mighty consequences.

        You know the problem with contact with a sparkly turd? The shit always ends up all over you.

        Ask me how I know. Stay strong 🙂

      • That’s true Imma, there’s no remorse there. Any emotional reaction is just more kibbles for him. No reaction, silence is the most efficient response and it drives narcs crazy. Stay strong, it does get better. The more time without contact, the more new experiences and memories made without him the easier it gets.

  • You went on a business trip and he had affairs. He’s a serial cheater, three that you know of so far. You moved for this jerk and I’m sure his family would prefer he marry you instead of living in their basement. Look at how he flipped the script to blaming you for pulling the rug out. He wants tolerance and unconditional love, entitlement for his disrespect and lies. You have nothing to work with here. Thankfully you didn’t marry the man child.

  • One of my ironclad rules in any relationship is if someone hurts me and basically says “I don’t care.” when I say “Ouch!” They’re history.

    I have gotten very picky about who I let in my life. I don’t have to pick me dance to have kind, loving people who care about me around. Neither do you, my friend. Those of us who strive to be decent people, who are kind and loving ourselves, will attract others who share our values. Unfortunately, we also attract narcissists who want to use us. The trick is to fix our pickers so we can tell the difference. A good start is to recognize red flags and when we see them….run!

    • Yes, you only need a few really close friends in life. Ironically, mine are all more recent, and never met my ex at all. I have quite a few people who were once close and are now on the outskirts.

  • My first D-day, I was 38. I felt ancient, but I wasn’t. I should have run and kept running. You are NOT old in your 30s. I wish I had kept my boundaries up and maintained better standards and not spent another several years exposed to his toxicity.

    Please listen to CL and get checked for depression. Anti-depressants can be a wonderful thing. You were put in this funk by a FW. You are suffering a natural reaction to what you have been through. I have been very fatigued and only lately realized it. I have started asking myself if I need my vitamin levels checked or if I could need anti-depressants. I don’t think I’m depressed, but what do I know? So ask a doc. I will do the same. Times are tough and there is no shame in asking for help.

    When I was sucked into the RIC, the idiot counselor we had told me that I needed to be clear with klootzak about boundaries of what was OK and not OK. Seriously? Like, he needed it written out that texting other women, trolling for pu$$y was in the “not OK” column? So the next week I came in with a list of texting, emailing, IMing, hitting “love” on their FB photos, the whole shebang was not acceptable. Boy, that DARVO channel hit hard. He told me that I was “not allowing (him) to have any friends” and I was “forcing him to make all his social encounters a two person proposition with just (me).” Because apparently just hanging out with guy friends didn’t count. It was too hard for him. He had to have women “friends” and how dare I smother him this way? He wrote a note to himself from that session that I saw later which said that I was “against any travel or vacations that she doesn’t plan” when what I said was I didn’t think it was fair that he took OUR vacation funds and used his vacation time from work to go off on a trip thousands of miles away to which I WAS NOT INVITED. Don’t married couples vacation together? I was supposed to stay home and keep working and paying the bills while he was in on a tropical vacation, allegedly with an old bachelor friend (who I later found out covers for him).

    It is NOT your job to explain to him that his flirting is unacceptable. If he thinks it is, then you two are definitely not on the same planet morally. I realized that about klootzak. I should not be in a position of explaining to my supposed partner what behavior is crossing the line. Because then if he complies and doesn’t cross the line, he is just whining that you are restricting his freedom from what he thinks is perfectly normal behavior. He isn’t going to wake up and suddenly adopt your morals. If he thinks texting, flirting, strip clubs, or whatever is OK, he will always think they are OK. And he will resent you being the ball and chain ruining his kibbles. F that.

    • The “mishearing” , so that a perfectly reasonable statement is twisted into something crazy and controlling, is pretty typical. Many of the things that I said to XW were unrecognizable when she repeated them back to me; not coincidentally, her version made me look abusive and controlling. It’s pretty hard to prove you didn’t say something when the other person is convinced that you did; I know that I didn’t because she accused me of saying things that I not only wouldn’t ever say, but that I don’t even believe in – but of course I couldn’t prove it, and my threatening and violent statements were so central to XW’s story about why she needed to leave (a story that, conveniently, omitted her year(s)-long affair) that she cannot admit that they are not true.

      Actually, as with many things, for a long time I gave XW the benefit of the doubt and thought that maybe she really did misunderstand me (as English is not her first language) – but now that I have seen the pattern here I realize that it has nothing to do with language and everything to do with willful self-deception.

    • MWE, just read what he wrote after your therapy session and think about that for a second – he’s clearly having an affair at that time, using his vacation time/marital funds to do this, and yet is so absurdly entitled that he can do the mental gymnastics to turn that into a complaint about YOU? They really do play from the same script!

      • We lived in Hawaii at the time but he had to fly to Cozumel to scuba dive. 🤔. And I had just finished 3 years of swim lessons and gotten my scuba certification so I could dive with him because it was one of his complaints that we didn’t share enough interests. All that work and getting over my fear of deep water and he decided to burn our vacation fund flying to Mexico to dive without me.

        He took me diving with him ZERO times after I got my certification.

        So yeah, ya think I was pissed? It had nothing to do with me smothering him. He was hooking up with our marital funds and leaving me home.

    • My STBX still refuses to admit his actions as even an emotional affair, let alone annoy kind of other affair and has said, MULTIPLE times, “I’m sorry I had a friend that wasn’t YOU.”
      Jesus I want to throttle him every time he says it. His Troll was not a “friend that wasn’t me.” She exclusively (and admittedly) goes after married men. And he knew this. And he went after her because she was convenient and is lacking in morals like him. And he knows that a silly little thing like a MARRIAGE isn’t something that deters her from getting what she wants.

      Right. I’m mad because he “had a friend” other than me.
      Nope. I’m mad because he kept calling her a friend while he was obsessing over her, sending photos back and forth, lying to me about where he was when he was actually with her (but that was just to “talk” outside of work without other people around 🙄🙄🙄), telling her how pretty and sexy she is. Going on about her musical ability. Etc.

      And he sees it as me just not wanting him to have friends.

      While I can’t even be ACTUALLY friendly with a male coworker without STBX accusing me of either wanting to fuck then or having already fucked them.

      P.S. I was on the receiving end of some pretty bad harassment at my last job. Hostile work environment, sexual harassment, the whole nine. And what did STBX do on a regular basis, as I dreaded going to work every day and was stressed beyond belief and spending all of my free time looking for another job?
      He accused me of having sex with all of them in the warehouse at work. The VERY people who were ALSO abusing me.

  • Every one of these responses today are so amazingly accurate and relatable.
    I actually feel a shift – in my thinking, as I was clearly still stuck. I am reading and thinking -this is exactly it! This is how I felt! This is how I feel!
    No one outside this group seems to get it. I have felt so very alone. Thank you everyone.
    Turmoil- keep heading in the direction you are going… out, to a sane life! You can’t tell the damage done, til you are away from it as, Velvet Hammer so eloquently wrote!

  • Turmoil,
    I think many of us here lol at your situation and say “she’s lucky they didn’t have kids together” and “she’s still young”. Which was my first impression. But your feelings are valid and will take time to process.

    It sucks being a chump, and it sucks that they take our future away from us through no fault or choice of our own.

    You will be lonely, you will miss being in a relationship. That’s normal. But you’re missing a lie. He’s not the person you thought he was. He deceived you. He’s gaslighting you and so is his family.

    You didn’t make him cheat. He made that decision over and over. He disrespected you by talking to women and flirting in front of you. That’s abuse. That’s not a loving relationship. You are doing all the work in the relationship, just so he can abuse you.

    You have so much life ahead of you. You need to do the work of healing, which starts with no contact. It makes a huge difference.

    I was 57 on D-Day. I still have plenty of living. I’m not giving up on love. But I am rethinking boundaries and what I want my life to look like. I have a new, healthy relationship. Not intense, and I don’t plan on ever living with him, or anyone. My cats and my daughter (from my long marriage to a narc, before the FW) are enough.

  • It’s never too late to right a wrong. And you do that by cutting him out of your life. I stayed 16 years after the first d-day. Because oh, it was all online so I had no right to be upset about it since nothing really happened. I bought that bullshit. I let him and others make me feel bad and guilty and wrong for even being upset about it.

    That’s what he and his shitty family and his shitty friends are trying to do to you right now. Don’t fall for it like I did. I can tell from what you’ve written right here that he’s a serial cheater who enjoys fucking with your head. If you get seriously ill, do you want this psycho responsible for your care? Do you know how much pleasure he will get mindfucking you if you were to get dementia? A life partner who will abuse you if you become vulnerable is one you need to run screaming from. And that’s who he is. I’m telling you from experience that nobody wants that horror show of a life. You are better off alone than with a destructive partner who will harm you. And you know he likes harming you because he KEEPS DOING IT! and he’s even escalating! He wanted an audience this last time so you could publicly humiliated as well.

    This is going to sound harsh but you should really cut out his friends and family and all mutual friends. He’s brought affair partners into your life, I’d bet my car on it. That’s what this type does. I’m saying this as a woman in my 40s who had to start over completely because I couldn’t trust anyone in my life. But what I’m also saying is that this has still been better than being married to someone who enjoyed hurting me like that. I no longer have to wait for the next d-day or for the other shoe to drop. I have peace that I hadn’t had since that first d-day so long ago. I put so much work into that relationship and I bet you have too and now I can put it into myself and my own life. And I’m finding it really, really easy compared to working with him. I think you’ll find peace once the pain starts to subside and it will, it just takes time and no contact.

    • Totally agree with all these points KP. I too am a woman in my (late) 40s. I had to cut off all of his family and friends out of my life because they were toxic and enablers to the FW. My ex MIL told me when she learned we were separating “you made a great team”. I had to do a double take on this one and that’s when it struck me; he never ever helped or supported me, rather kicked my legs from under me when I needed to be strong, while I had helped him throughout our marriage and took care of our kids by myself. That’s how they saw me, I too was an enabler! They see nothing wrong with him!

      I always felt like the help, like someone on the outside while I was married, because I was treated as such. I never ever want to feel that way again. I don’t want my kids to see me get treated that way either. NC all the way. I made new friends, one of them is my emergency contact now. I feel free and much happier.

  • Congratulate yourself with a big gentle hug for breaking if off with an abuser no matter the amount of sunk cost of time.
    I stayed over 18 years married after a screaming gut and marital rape then four more after proof and confrontation. Thirty three yrs sunk cost which is longer than your life. Think about that. Do you want to waste your one precious life with an disrespectful abuser that may also pass along a disease that could kill you?
    My therapist was doing a clearing today on the hopelessness I felt during the divorce in 16 that surfaced. She reiterated the fact that I am really a bas ass for dealing with a seemingly impossible situation and now I’m on the other side aiming for a great life that is entirely possible to have.
    I would suggest finding what makes you happy and give up feeling responsible for others. People should be a positive addition to your life instead of sucking your values out of you and blaming their shit life and decisions on you.

  • As always, agree with everything CL says. I’ll also add that I found the absolute love of my life in my mid 40s, and it’s wonderful. He was an old friend from my youth, and also a chump, and we reconnected and it is truly the easiest relationship I’ve ever been in…and rewarding, and great. So…the best is yet to come for you! It’s 2021…late 30s is the new mid-20s!

  • Dear all,

    Thank you for keeping me sane and for caring enough to leave a response. I think the mindfuckery over the past years have really messed with my perspective and self confidence. I have learned to live of crumbs and ‘see the positive’ in a person that continues to let me down. Honestly, my standards and boundary have gone completely out the window and if not for my dads sudden passing a few months ago, I would not have forced myself to face the music on what a shitshow of a relationship I have been in for the past few years. I have learned to accept that messaging other women is expected, and that cheating is the inevitable outcome of most relationships. How sad is that.

    • turmoil, i hear you on how the mindfuckery mess with perspective and self confidence. yesterday, at therapy, i said to my therapist, “this stuff is fucking me up. it’s like the outline of my self is sorta blurry.” it’s such a weird feeling.

      but there’s integration happening and boundaries are a big part of that.

      it’s hard. i’m sorry you’re going through it. fuck, i’m sorry we’re all going through it. there are better days ahead, i’m sure of it.

      it’s funny how death reminds us of how best to live. i started intensive therapy for complicated grief a couple of years ago–my brother died suddenly and i needed to face lingering FOO issues. there was emotional abuse. there, i said it out loud.

      i think that emotional abuse led me to look for silver linings in people/situations and push off the inevitable dark clouds. but clouds gather and there’s precipitation, that’s what happens in a life. so here i am, figuring out my emotional weather at 56.

      PS fuck that guy

    • Turmoil, this is a very good description of the effect of this type of emotional abuse over several years. Intermittent reinforcement, lying, gaslighting, beating you when you’re down are all well known tactics at CN and we’ve all felt the ill effects. Your loss of self confidence, confusion and your inability to leave are some of them, and it is addictive! The immediate cure is NC. It helps lift the fog and allows you to think clearly again.
      Stay strong, it gets better.

    • Dear Turmoil,

      First I’d like to say I’m very sorry about the passing of your dad. You should be in the absolute best kind of relationship when a parent passes on (supportive, loving, kind, respectful, trustworthy, reciprocal, etc) and sadly you weren’t. 🙁

      “I have learned to accept that messaging other women is expected, and that cheating is the inevitable outcome of most relationships.”

      The ex trained me from the get-go (1992) that having “friendships” with tons of women was normal and that I shouldn’t be so jealous; they were just “friendships”. Not true. He was trying to groom them all for his harem. Messaging other women is NOT acceptable in a healthy and committed relationship. The ex did his best to convince me that it was normal to “miss” his former female co-worker when he accidentally forgot to shut his Gmail down on our family commuter and I saw the email he sent her telling her he “missed her so much!” When confronted about it, he turned it back on me and said, “Don’t you miss people you used to work with?”

      Your ex cheater has done a major mindfuck on you! He seems to have you convinced that you are the reason that he cheated and also that you are responsible for his happiness! You didn’t do anything wrong and you are not responsible for his happiness. Your ex cheaters character, morals and values are responsible for him cheating. Period! He’s responsible for his happiness. Period!

      And now for this: “I’m scared to be alone and find there is no point to life at times (not suicidal but there is a grey cast over everything). I’m in my late 30s and this is now my third failed long term relationship. I am so confused and overwhelmed with sadness and fear.”

      This is one of the hard parts about “gaining a life”. We need to learn how to be happy and content on our own. You are in the very early stages of the trauma from infidelity, so your feelings are 100% normal and valid. I wanted to die almost every single day for a few years. Not that I missed the ex or wanted him back. I just couldn’t deal with the heavy feelings 24/7. Like CL and CN has said, maybe it’s time to see a doctor? Meds do help and so does talking to a professional (one who believes that cheating is abuse and is schooled in trauma recovery). I also spent hours and hours reading every single post by CL from the archives. Including all the responses from CN. This was very helpful to help reprogram my mind. I can assure you that in the beginning, I thought I was to blame and was lacking in myself which caused him to cheat. I now know the truth and like they say, the truth will set you free! I would be lying if I said that I don’t miss my old life/LIE. I miss what I thought my life was and I miss all the dreams I had for the future. But I don’t miss one bit living with a pathological liar. I don’t miss walking on eggshells. Keeping my mouth shut when I want to call out a lie or question him about something. I don’t miss having to deal with all his female “friendships”. For years and years I had neck pain and tension. That’s been gone for seven years! I used to have stomach pain so severe that I’d drink loads of antacids and chew Tums like candy. I haven’t had those pains in seven years! I used to have a recurring nightmare for years and that’s been gone for seven years too! Amazing how my body was screaming at me that something wasn’t right, but my heart and head wouldn’t believe all the red flags that kept waving right in front of me! Idea for Fun Friday: All the bad things going on in your body that magically disappeared after D-day.

      Turmoil, I know it will be hard to see this right now, but you’ve been given a gift. You’ve been given the gift of seeing this man/child for who he truly is before you got married, bought a house, had children, sunk years and years into him, your family and home. I was given many gifts of wisdom before I was married, but I was unable to see them for what they were. When he was cold, mean, ghosting, dismissive, unavailable, too busy for me, verbally abusive, told me I was boring; I should have run and never looked back. But I tried harder to fix me, because he had me convinced it was me. I was so stupid and wish I could kick some sense into my 20-something self!

      Run, Turmoil, run! NO CONTACT! Keep coming back to CL. We all will help you! ((((HUGS))))

    • A few people here recommended the book “Psychopath Free” by Jackson MacKenzie. I’ve been listening to it on audiobook (I found it on Hoopla – all you need is a library card).
      I, SERIOUSLY, cannot recommended this book enough!!! As I sit here at work, listening to this amazing book, I just keep nodding my head. Saying things to myself like, “Yep”, “mmmhmmm”, and “holy shit”.
      This book is SO on point. Go now. Read it. Listen to it. Whatever. I think it will really help to open your eyes to ALL of the fuckery that’s probably been taking place in your life.

      Keep coming here, Turmoil. My children, my job, and CL/CN are the only things that kept me going for the past year of this insane nightmare I’ve been going through and it’ll help you, too. Especially on the days you’re doubting whether you’ve made the right decision or not.
      And, let me just tell you- you’ve made the right decision. He proved to you what you mean to him.

    • Turmoil I am so sorry for your loss. It sounds like your dad may still be looking out for you. You have done the right thing. Give yourself space to grieve your losses and with time you will be ok. ((Hugs))

  • Turmoil,
    Listen to CL and the advice from the entire CN. I had two DDays about two months apart. I did not find out about CL until after DDay2 but when I did, I made the move. Before CL and CN, I got into the RIC which was just more mindfucking and blaming. The therapist was right in line with the FW. I am not taking blame for his cheating habit! I worked, took care of our son, the dogs and 95% of household chores and that consumed my time which was one of his many reasons for cheating. I didn’t look like a 20 year old anymore so he just had to cheat, right?
    Thanks to any advice provided here, I got the ducks in a row, lawyered up and filed. Went no contact/grey rock and he left the house last weekend. Yeah, there are still battles to be fought ahead but NC is great. My son (25) made his decision to go NC as well. Of course FW blames me. The kid is a 25 year old man with a job and makes his own decisions. He decided he has rules about cheaters too. Good on him.
    Once you leave, you will be much happier. Yes, it can get lonely but there are ways to cope with that. You are young and will still have the ability to pursue what life offers to you. Go forth, free yourself from the mind fuck and live FW free. It won’t always be easy but you can get through it a lot easier without the mind fuck.
    Make sure you keep the friends who will be with you through all of this. The list of friends will shrink but the ones remaining are the ones worth having.my list is much shorter but those friendships are honest and safe. I know my circle will be there for me as fight this last battle with the FW. Just be yourself, work on your picker and when ready and only then start thinking about what you want in a relationship.

  • You tried for 4 years. You even moved for him.

    But guess what? He’s the same douche. He’s openly flirting and contacting other women. That’s not ok!

    At no point is a relationship so set that you can’t get out of it. Do you feel safe with him? Are you happy? Has he really changed? No, no and no

    Feel free to end this and not feel an ounce of guilt over it. 4 years of sunk costs. Don’t waste another minute with him. Take care of you. You will find someone better.

  • Turmoil, you are young and obviously interested in your own recovery or you wouldn’t be on this blog. I was 67 when I asked my ex if he had gone outside our union for sex. “Our entire marriage” was not what I wanted to hear. Who knows if he was ever gonna spill the beans, but his behavior was proving UNACCEPTABLE to me. He no longer cared if I saw what he was up to. The discard had been in process for a long time. Chumps try so hard to make things work we tie ourselves in tight emotional knots, we jump thru hoops of fire financially. Turning away from someone we love can feel unnatural. Personally, I have an overwhelming need to be needed. Beyond reason. This has kept me from focusing on myself, what I need, and I’m not sure what that is just yet. So for now I focus on knowing what I don’t want. I don’t want a cheater. A liar. An entitled moron. Invest in yourself, not in someone who can’t or won’t ever reciprocate. Let go or be dragged.

    • This. 100%. I was in my 20s the first time he stepped over the line, and I reasoned that he was drunk and forgave him after kicking him out for six months. Two months before my 49th anniversary, my doctor told me I had an STD. They never quit, and they never change, and when someone shows you what they are you should leave right then. I wasted my entire life on my cheating sack of feces.

  • I’m assuming he had an physical affair before the Dday 4 years ago

    Then messaging women after that

    The trust is gone, gone, gone and it won’t be coming back

    Reconciling would only lead to feelings of panic for you when he is late coming home, doesn’t answer his phone, talks too long to the checkout lady or your girlfriends, and when you are out of town. Not a healthy way to live!

    He blew it and he did it with his eyes wide open

  • I am sorry you are feeling lonely and saddened by the end of your relationship, but I believe you did the right thing. In my experience, the loneliness of a bad marriage is a lot worse than the loneliness of the single person. You’ll be fine–eventually.

    A guy who cheats and then pretends he can’t tell what counts as flirting is just planning his next “mistake.” After you get a speeding ticket, do you zoom down the streets wondering what the speed limit is or assume it is 35 until you see a sign allowing you to speed up? A responsible person over-reacts and exerts extra care to balance their flaws; an irresponsible person pretends there are no flaws, the flaws are too small to matter, or tells their partner to manage all the flaws. Your EX is trying everything he can to shift the responsibility of his infidelities on to you. I am glad you have learned to refuse the burden.

    Treat yourself well–what brings you pleasure? A trip to the library, a walk in the sunshine, a really elaborate baking recipe, a binge of your favorite trashy television show, renting a kayak and paddling around the local lake enjoying the fall leaves, repainting a bathroom in a vibrant tone? Make a list and start doing these things–even though you are feeling grey. Just as you learned to put up with being second best, you can learn to be happy again. It takes time, but you’ll get there.

  • I remember the morning of the last Dday well. After finally questioning him on the affair and him finally admitting it I was enraged. I was screaming and yelling and calling both him and the Af (I knew who it was but he wouldn’t admit it was her.) some very choice names. The very first thing he said after my tirade was
    “Why didn’t you stop me?”
    And he said it so calmly. I can still hear him saying it 6 years later.
    I had never been so shocked in my entire 56 years on this earth. I couldn’t even respond. I just walked away

  • “I never actually met up with them”? I’m guessing you never “actually caught him with his pants around his ankles and his wing wang waving”, but you’re pretty sure he’s been there, right? In your 30s is still pretty young – take this advice from a 73 year old chump: GET OUT NOW.

  • “Fuckwits don’t love.” CL sums it up perfectly!

    WE love, WE bond, WE commit. They don’t.

    WE are in pain after we finally say we’re done because we have the normal human ability to form attachments with people.

    They pretend to love – they call it that, and we believe them, but they don’t really know how. It’s hard for normal people to comprehend that cheaters are consummate actors. Truly, they’re Academy Award level actors!

    Normal people don’t deceive and betray their spouses or spouses-to-be. Flirting (in front of you or behind your back) is a form of betrayal. It hurts us and THEY KNOW IT. That’s abusive and hurtful and yes, a betrayal, and they don’t care.

    I have longed for the man I thought I married, the good and loving man he pretended to be for several years. I was deeply in love, but that man never actually existed. I found out after he cheated that there were many other lies I had been told, part of his carefully crafted performance. He played a part. They are con artists. They “don’t love,” they USE people.

    I know you yearn but stay away! No contact! Grieve (I know I have grieved) but get away. Keep reminding yourself: he’s a mean, lying, con artist cheater.

  • Dear Turmoil,

    Your story totally resonates with me. I did the same thing with my cheating ex (Stuck around for around 4 years before extricating myself from the disastrous marriage.) I was around the same age as you are now, and had the same fears about starting over, because of course I did. Who wouldn’t?

    My reality ended up being so much better. My forties ( I’m at the ripe old age of 47 now) have honestly been the best decade of my life. I’m happily remarried now, but truly that happiness started when I moved out of our house and into my own place. I started living for myself and didn’t his presence or long, mysterious absences to contend with anymore. I was free, and it was glorious.

    It’s not easy, but you can do it, and it is worth it. Good luck. 💚

    • Thank you for the hope. I’m nearing the end of cohabitation with the cheater and I can feel the glimmer of hope and happiness. The long absences and lies are just a soul suck. Happy for you and your new life!

  • I think you can change your mind at any point. I am finally separating years after d-day for various reasons, and there is no timeline. We realize our worth and what we won’t tolerate at different points. If it happens to me in the future with a new relationship, I’ll quickly leave (but that’s experience speaking). You did all you could and now you’re leaving the relationship, he is the one that messed up not you. I heard all the abusive things over the years like “no one will put up with you”, “you can’t do any better than me” and more recently “go suck the next guy dry”. I finally realize none of that is true. They do a number to our self esteem. I was also in a place where I assumed all men were like this, but through my
    job I see many men suffering from bad relationships with women and wanting the same things that we (chumps) want. It’s not a gender problem but a character problem. I have no idea what this next phase holds but it won’t be crying on the bathroom floor of another hotel room in front of the kids leaning about their father’s affair. Sure I could pick wrong again, but I’d 100% be slowing dying staying in this marriage.

  • “…just dragged him along these past four years.”
    I don’t even know what this means.
    By getting engaged and moving to his hometown?
    Let the poor sad sack go. NC!!

  • In the fall of 2004, one evening my husband got a call on his cell phone from a woman and went outside to take it. I freaked out and accused him of having an affair. He denied it, explaining she was a coworker just asking a work question. I spent a few days scouring cell phone records but didn’t come up with any evidence. He brushed it off that I was overreacting. Eventually, I believed him and never thought of it again. It was just a phone call. He was always home with me…he didn’t have time to cheat.

    Fast forward to the fall of 2017 when I discover he’s having an affair. Without revealing that I found his secret email account with evidence of CraigList casual encounter activities and that his affair partner responded to his ad, I sat him down and gave him an ultimatum. He need to choose either his wife of 20 years or his girlfriend of 3 months and he had until the kids’ bedtime to decide. Now, I was filing for divorce no matter his answer. But, I needed to hear his choice. After thinking for a while, he told me he didn’t choose me. He then went on to bring up that suspicious phone call from 2004 and said it was what I thought it was. He told me instead of going to work one day, they met up at a hotel.

    Him telling me that sent me into a tailspin of overanalyzing every little thing that seemed odd during the 25 years we were together. Not a healthy mental exercise! I was blindsided on that DDay in 2017, but likely due to me minimizing his behavior, spackling, not recognizing red flags, etc.

    Trust your instincts. Know your worth. Go no contact. He’s a fuckwit. The trauma will subside in time.

    • always, trust your instincts! 13 years ago, 1st D-day, a Craigslist’s posting, he was so sorry and it would never ever happen again. He would not risk losing his family!!! I believed him, stayed, started over. 2020, middle of the pandemic, I am 65 years old, 37 years married, and I discover an AFF account, multiple hookups, a double life, for at least a decade! I am so disgusted with myself that I gave him a second chance, they do not change. Please, listen to your gut, leave him now!!

  • Once more, a letter to Chump Lady has inspired a conversation we were not allowed to have during our abuse.

    The inquiry about a D-Day years ago/micro affair/flirtation all come back to the realization that we were silenced when we brought up our very reasonable concerns.

    What differed were the words or threats, but it boils down to a lack of respect for the chump and an inflated sense of entitlement by the cheater.

  • Healthy people do not cheat or get involved in illicit relationships with people who are in marriages or committed partnerships. They don’t keep secrets, lie, fail to communicate, get even, keep score, blame, etc.

    Period.

    Cheating and lying is hard indisputable evidence that the emotional maturity and skills required for a healthy relationship are absent. Same goes for the cheating accomplices. Cheaters and their lower companions USE people. They want the comforts of home and the dopamine hit of the secret double life. It all works for THEM, their only concern. They don’t even care about hurting their children. The first time I held my daughter, I realized I would give my life to save hers. Step in front of a bullet. Want to make anyone who hurt her really, really regret it.

    Period.

    Survival of the fittest applies not just to physical condition but to emotional and psychological fitness.

    Life is challenging enough without tying myself to an idiot who is pulling me off the wall.

    Good partners are not perfect people but people who help each other climb.

    Stick with the winners. Cheaters, liars, those who saddle up with them, by definition are neither.

    Surgery without anesthesia is excruciating, but essential for removing parasitic soul-sucking jerks from your life.

    IMHO

  • Dear Turmoil,

    As always, Chump Lady never disappoints. She’s the chump whisperer, for sure. Wish I had read her book the very FIRST time my ex cheated, if so – I would not have suffered another 20 years of his cheating and gaslighting.

    Early on, I too found out that he cheated on me with one of his exes. Okay, so I had a massive dose of hopium and married him anyway. Two children later, I too was at a party, and he brazenly flirted with the groom’s cousin. I had just had our baby a few months earlier, and to watch him flirt with this woman at the wedding really hurt and was so humiliating. I got upset, and the next day was told that I ruined his good time. I absorbed the “role” of ruining his good times and “not trusting him” as I should.

    Well, I never felt special to him after that event. About 16 years later, I discovered he had 2 more affairs with co-workers. Still took me another several years to kick him out, this time because I caught him in the 3rd affair with a co-worker But, after a two decades, the pain never healed from the cheating that he did during our first 3 years together. My heart never healed, and I always felt insecure when he went on business trips or to a party without me. So messed up. Turmoil, trust your gut. You did the right thing. Go no contact and move on with your happiness elsewhere.

    • Oh Gardening. It sounds like you’re still hurting a bit, and still doubting yourself a tiny bit. Your ex was a pig! And you were just way too good for him. That’s why you stayed so long. It was messed up, but it was never you. I hope you have found happiness.

  • Oh, how I wish I’d ended it it my thirties, at the first inkling that something wasn’t right. When I was youthful, energetic, optimistic and healthy. When a therapist informed me that my husband had Narcissistic Personality Disorder and the chances of him ever changing were exceedingly slim. But I didn’t. I stayed another 20 years. So, here I am in my late 50’s – tired, disillusioned, dealing with some health issues and feeling a bit beaten down by life. Wondering if I’ll be alone for the rest of my life. I’m not quite ready to put myself out there yet, but from the little I’ve seen the pickings are kind of slim in my age group. But it is infinitely better being alone than walking on eggshells every day and twisting myself into a pretzel in failed attempts to keep a lying, cheating, narcissistic fuckwit happy.

    Be proud of yourself that you put a stop to it as quickly as you did. Try to think of it as a hard, painful lesson learned. And a bullet dodged! You will be the stronger and wiser for it. You have your whole life ahead of you. Take heart. You’ll be okay. ❤️

    • When you get more years out and away from the constant mindfuck, and, may I add, into a recovery program like a good 12 step program or therapy where inner needs can get our attention, life is SO much better.
      Longtimer here.

  • Dear Turmoil,
    You might also look into getting your eggs frozen right now, so that you will have the option of having children much more easily later in your life, once you have found the right partner or even if you decide to do it on your own. There is no reason for that particular sunk cost to be a reason to stick around waiting for that sleazy man to transform into some one with integrity; he will never change for the better, and will probably go downhill and become worse with age.

    Turmoil, you truly do deserve so much better. Please don’t settle for that sleazy manipulative piece of trash. Walk away and don’t look back.

    • I have been through IVF…freezing eggs after 35 is often not done by reputable clinics because the thaw rate is abysmal. 😔 Then you add on the natural attrition rate with fertilisation and survival of embryos to 3 or 5 days and you’ll be shocked. Paying for IVF is like buying a lottery ticket. No guarantee at all of a baby at the end. It didn’t work for me…but then I fell pregnant naturally waiting to start a new cycle.

      If you want to be a mum…consider starting now and buying donor sperm. I was on that path when I met my beloved husband at the 11th hour. Now he is dead and I am 31 weeks pregnant with our first and only child…having a partner is no guarantee that you will always be coupled up. I’m going to become a single mother while grieving my beloved. What I am trying to tell you is that waiting for a partner if you really want to be a mother isn’t a good plan. Decide what you want and make new plans no matter how scary they are and if they look different to what you always wanted. Life tends to look nothing like you ever expect in my experience. Take care…you’re doing great. You’re strong because you have demonstrated great strength in leaving the cheater…things always get better once you leave a cheater! Xxx

    • Thank you 🙏. Thankfully I have got my eggs frozen a couple years back when I sensed this relationship was not exactly as I imagined and wanted to have no regrets even though I am unsure as to whether o want children or not. This was probably the first major step for me at the time in recognising there was something missing in the relationship. Reading all of the comments here has been very validating but am very sad at the same time to learn so many of Chumps out there have had such bad experiences in love. Thank you again to all of you for taking the time to comment and share your stories. ❤️

      • Turmoil, sorry for all the pain you’re going through right now. I don’t know if I’m considering myself unlucky now. The stories I read hear are sad sometimes but they also speak of strength and grit and overcoming crazy odds. What I’ve been learning since my world was shattered is priceless. I’ve rediscovered that love was all around me, mostly my kids, my close friends, my dad and brothers and most importantly myself! There are all kinds of love and I’d been kept in the dark trying to get love from people who couldn’t or wouldn’t. I’ve been given another chance and I am taking it, and I believe life can be wonderful and I am thankful.

  • .Micro-affairs….lol

    You got engaged AFTER this?

    Time to build some self-respect. It will never come from this asshat. Find a challenge and get it done.
    YOU can do this. Remember who you are, at your core.

    • Exactly right.
      The mind blender that these entitled disordered people impose on others is quite real.
      Get fuckers (and their enablers) out of your life.

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